In 2015, Airbus Helicopters delivered 395 rotorcraft from the company’s civil, parapublic and military product lines. Meanwhile, the company booked 383 orders (adjusted to 333 due to contract amendments for governmental NH90 and Tiger helicopters) with a strong performance of the new-generation medium H175. Demand remained steady for the H135 and H145 family of light twin helicopters, with bookings levels exceeding the company’s targets for 2015.
Highlights of last year include a strong commercial performance of the seven-ton H175 with 36 units booked, exceeding the company’s objectives for 2015. The gross order book of the H175 is now up to 101 units after being endorsed last year by several oil and gas operators despite the low price of oil. Operated by NHV since December 2014, the H175 has achieved 2,000 flight hours with a high level of availability. A first order for the public services variant was also placed in 2015 by Hong Kong operator GFS.
In 2015, Airbus successfully launched the flight-test phase of the new H160 medium helicopter, the first member of the “H Generation”. A second prototype joined the flight-test campaign in 2016, a year that will also see the launch of the H160 commercialization. In 2015, Airbus also delivered the first H145M to the German armed forces, two years after the contract was awarded for the development of this new, militarized version of the leading H145 helicopter. At the Helitech exhibition in London, the company also announced an upgrade of the H135 equipped with the Helionix digital avionics suite providing increased safety and reduced pilot workload.
Major achievements in the field of safety during 2015, with the leading-edge H225 at the forefront of the developments, are the full implementation of the Flight Crew Operating Manual, a document outlining best practices and recommendations for oil and gas missions, by North Sea operators in 2015 and the certification of Rig ‘N Fly, an advanced avionics solution for “one-touch” approaches to oil rigs.
Last year was also an important one for Airbus on the international stage, expanding its partnerships and international footprint. The company was selected by Korean Aerospace Industries as a strategic partner in the LCH-LAH development, 10 years after the two companies partnered for the development of the Surion. This will bring an evolution of the H155 to the market in civil and military applications with several hundred units to be produced.
A new partnership was also signed aimed at assembling 100 H135s in China and strengthening Airbus’ position in-country, where the company already has a civil market share of 40%. In November, the heavyweight H215 was introduced along with a new industrial model and an expanded strategic partnership with Romania, aiming at providing a modern and cost-effective solution for markets such as utility, peacekeeping operations and logistic support missions. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army confirmed its endorsement for the locally-assembled UH-72 Lakota by ordering an additional 53 aircraft this year, bringing the total to more than 400 helicopters on order. This program has been recognized as a benchmark in terms of on-time, on-cost and on-quality delivery.
In the customer service domain, Airbus launched HCare at Heli-Expo last March as the industry’s most comprehensive coverage. Since then, the company started operations with its 24/7, 365 -ays-a-year technical hotline to provide non-stop support to all customers. Airbus also won emblematic support contracts such as the seven-year comprehensive co-operative support and services agreement for the German Air Force’s fleet of 15 H145M helicopters and the 5-year global service solution for the 50 EC145 fleet for the Gendarmerie Nationale and Sécurité Civile.
This year will be another year of transformation for Airbus as the company will be modernizing its industrial capabilities. The Marignane Development Centre, designed to support innovation and future programs, will be inaugurated this year along with the new center of excellence for blade production “Paris-Le-Bourget.” An all-new automated final assembly line for the H160 will also be inaugurated in the second half of this year.